Foto: China National Space Administration
China’s Yutu-2 rover, part of its Chang’e 4 lunar mission, rolls across the far side of the moon in January 2019.
The first rover ever to visit the far side of the moon has discovered a layer of lunar dust up to 12 meters (39 feet) deep.
The rover and its lander, which sits in the moon’s Von Kármán crater, are part of China’s Chang’e-4 mission. Their landing there on January 3, 2019 marked the first time any spacecraft had ever visited the far side of the moon without crashing.
The rover measured the moon’s surface dust with radar for the first time, and researchers from China and Italy described the results in a paper published Wednesday in the journal Science Advances.
Lunar dust, also called regolith, is a talc-like substance of pulverized rock and dust that settled after asteroids bombarded the moon’s surface billions of years ago. The Chang’e 4 findings confirm that this dust also coats the far side of the moon, in a layer that the scientists described as „quite thick.“
„This work shows that the extensive use of the [Chang’e 4 radar] could greatly improve our understanding of the history of lunar impact and volcanism and could shed new light on the comprehension of the geological evolution of the moon’s far side,“ the study authors wrote.
That understanding will be key for future missions to the moon. Lunar dust can cloud a spacecraft’s instruments as it approaches the moon’s surface, raising the risk of failure.
Regolith has caused problems before
„If we’re going to spend long durations and build permanent habitats, we have to figure out how to handle that,“ Whitson said.
Brian O’Brien, a physicist who designed the regolith-measuring device that accompanied the Apollo 11 astronauts, told Wired that he suspects dust interfered with a seismometer and blocked solar cells on that mission.
Foto: A close-up view of an astronaut’s boot print in the lunar soil during the Apollo 11 moon landing of July 20, 1969. Source: NASA
Regolith measurements across the moon’s surface could help future spacecraft avoid those problems.
„Some of the new engine types and the thrust levels that we will have – we really don’t understand how it will stir up the different kinds of regolith in different locations on the moon,“ Alicia Dwyer Cianciolo, an aerospace engineer working on NASA’s robotic moon missions, told The Atlantic in September.
Foto: China landed its Chang’e 4 lunar mission inside an ancient crater located on the far side of the moon. Source: Shayanne Gal/Business Insider
Below the 39 feet of fine dust, the Chang’e 4 rover also found a layer of coarse material full of rocks, followed by alternating layers of coarse and fine substances up to 40 meters (131 feet) deep.
Though China has not shared a specific timeline for the rest of the mission, the robots‘ goals on the moon’s far side are to take photos of the barren landscape, study lunar geology, look for water ice, and scan the night sky for radio bursts.
A Surprisingly Large Number Of “Stars” You See In The Sky Are Actually Spacecraft – Wonderful Engineering
Thousands of communication satellites are being designed and launched at a rapid pace. These satellites will have a negative impact on observational astronomy research and are likely to significantly disrupt recreational or traditional cultural stargazing.
If you look up in the sky, you might notice a sequence of bright star-like objects moving in a straight line. Those aren’t stars. They’re Starlink satellites, and they’ll soon be even more noticeable in the dark sky.
Samantha Lawler, assistant professor of astronomy at the University of Regina, recently wrote a piece in The Conversation warning that “one out of every 15 points” of light in the sky could someday be a satellite rather than a star. Moreover, she said he also thinks that satellite companies like Elon Musk’s SpaceX’s Starlink will immensely impact space research.
“This will be devastating to research astronomy and will completely change the night sky worldwide,” she wrote.
Lawler’s forthcoming study will be published in The Astronomical Journal, which will show evidence for the adverse stargazing effects of satellite megaconstellations like SpaceX’s.
Given that firms like SpaceX offer internet to locations around the world that might otherwise be without it, Lawler believes that regulatory agencies should limit the number of visible satellites in orbit.
“Our perspective of the stars will soon be changed forever,” she added if that doesn’t happen.
“We can’t accept the global loss of access to the night sky, which we’ve been able to see and connect with for as long as we’ve been human,” she wrote.
Our orbit is clogged with space debris. Starlink’s satellites have to avoid space junk as well. Will legislators intervene to put a stop to it? If prior responses to existential concerns like climate change are any indication, it will be considered later rather than sooner.
Dinosaur tail found in Chile stuns scientists – Phys.Org
Chilean paleontologists on Wednesday presented their findings on a dinosaur discovered three years ago in Patagonia which they said had a highly unusual tail that has stumped researchers
The remains of the Stegouros elengassen were discovered during excavations in 2018 at Cerro Guido, a site known to harbor numerous fossils, by a team who believed they were dealing with an already known species of dinosaur until they examined its tail.
“That was the main surprise,” said Alexander Vargas, one of the paleontologists. “This structure is absolutely amazing.”
“The tail was covered with seven pairs of osteoderms … producing a weapon absolutely different from anything we know in any dinosaur,” added the researcher during a presentation of the discovery at the University of Chile.
The osteoderms—structures of bony plaques located in the dermal layers of the skin – were aligned on either side of the tail, making it resemble a large fern.
Paleontologists have discovered 80 percent of the dinosaur’s skeleton and estimate that the animal lived in the area 71 to 74.9 million years ago. It was about two meters (almost seven feet) long, weighed 150 kilograms (330 pounds) and was a herbivore.
According to the scientists, who published their research in the journal Nature, the animal could represent a hitherto unknown lineage of armored dinosaur never seen in the southern hemisphere but already identified in the northern part of the continent.
“We don’t know why (the tail) evolved. We do know that within armored dinosaur groups there seems to be a tendency to independently develop different osteoderm-based defense mechanisms,” said Sergio Soto, another member of the team.
The Cerro Guido area, in the Las Chinas valley 3,000 km (1,800 miles) south of Santiago, stretches for 15 kilometers. Various rock outcrops contain numerous fossils.
The finds there allowed the scientists to surmise that present-day America and Antarctica were close to each other millions of years ago.
“There is strong evidence that there is a biogeographic link with other parts of the planet, in this case Antarctica and Australia, because we have two armored dinosaurs there closely related” to the Stegouros, said Soto.
Alexander Vargas, Bizarre tail weaponry in a transitional ankylosaur from subantarctic Chile, Nature (2021). DOI: 10.1038/s41586-021-04147-1. www.nature.com/articles/s41586-021-04147-1
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Total solar eclipse brings darkness to Antarctic summer – CBC.ca
Video released by NASA shows a total solar eclipse as seen from Western Antarctica on Saturday.
The Earth’s southernmost continent experiences continual daylight from mid-October until early April, but the eclipse brought a few minutes of total darkness.
NASA said the period of totality began at 2:44 a.m. ET.
A solar eclipse occurs when the moon moves between the sun and Earth, casting a shadow on Earth, fully or partially blocking the sun’s light in some areas.
For a total eclipse to take place the sun, moon, and Earth must be in a direct line. The only place that this total eclipse could be seen was Antarctica.
The eclipse was also expected to be visible partially from South Africa, Chile, New Zealand and Australia on Saturday.
North America gets its next glimpse of a full solar eclipse on April 8, 2024.
Stuck in South Africa, new travel rules put this Canadian's trip home for the holidays at risk – CBC.ca
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